Flooding

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video screen grab)

Updated 1 p.m. with news of river closure to traffic.

The Missouri National Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol have performed countless water rescues during the flood of 2011. But late Thursday and early Friday, many of the soldiers and officers found themselves in need of rescue.

(Jeff Williams/WSIU)

Updated with Gov. Nixon's request for a disaster declaration.

The decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to blast the levee at Birds Point appears to have brought some relief to Cairo, Ill., but the possibility of record crests continues all along the Mississippi River.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says that while she sympathizes with southeast Missouri farmers whose land has been swamped by the Birds Point levee breach, a lawsuit filed on their behalf against the federal government will be difficult to win.

The lawsuit claims the government violated the farmers' rights by taking their land without adequate compensation.

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video screen grab)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to blow holes into agricultural levees to relieve rising floodwater on the town of Cairo, Ill. (See video footage of today's second blast below).

However, sparing Cairo came at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars of Missouri crops.

Ed Marshall farms about 8,000 acres in Mississippi County in southeast Missouri.  At this time of year he normally looks out on miles of corn and wheat, but right now, his view is different.

Updated 1:23 p.m. May 3 with information about lawsuit:

Via the Associated Press:

A group of 25 southeast Missouri farmers is suing the federal government over its decision to blow a hole in a levee, causing their farmland and houses to flood.

Cape Girardeau attorney J. Michael Ponder filed the lawsuit Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated explosives on the Birds Point levee to ease pressure from the swelling Mississippi River.

(via Butler Miller)

Updated 10:30 p.m. May 2:

Around 10:15, the Army Corps of Engineers posted to its Facebook page that the first section of the levee had been breached.

Updated 5:58 p.m. May 2 with information that levee will be broken and additional information:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to detonate the Birds Point levee in southern Missouri tonight.

Officials announced the decision this evening.

bkusler/Flickr

Osama bin Laden is Dead

Missouri lawmakers are reacting to the news that the mastermind of 9-11 has been killed by US Forces. In a statement, Republican Senator Roy Blunt calls Osama bin Laden’s death a major victory for America. Missouri’s Democratic Senator, Claire McCaskill, calls bin Laden’s death quote “justice delivered.”

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to blast open a levee to relieve the rain-swollen Mississippi River.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito did not comment Sunday night in denying Missouri's request to block the corps' plan. Alito handles emergency requests from Missouri and other states in the 8th Circuit in the Midwest.

Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh says a decision has not yet been made on whether to breech the levee. 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 12:29 p.m. April 29:

Via the Associated Press:

Missouri officials are appealing a federal judge's ruling that says the Army Corps of Engineers can break a levee and flood Missouri farmland if necessary to spare an Illinois town upstream.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. ruled Friday that the corps' plan to breach the Birds Point levee is appropriate to ensure flood-control along the Mississippi. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis a short time later.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Fed. judge gives corps OK to break Missouri levee

A federal judge is giving the go-ahead to the Army Corps of Engineers' plan to intentionally break a Mississippi River levee in southeastern Missouri.

The break could happen as early as this weekend to spare a flood-threatened Illinois town just upriver. Friday's ruling in Cape Girardeau turns back Missouri's bid to block the corps from blasting a hole in the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, just south of Cairo, Ill.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Army Corps of Engineers to Decide on Levee Breach this Weekend

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will wait until this weekend to decide whether to punch a massive hole in a Mississippi County, Missouri levee to protect Cairo, Ill.

The mayor of the small city isn't waiting that long to take action.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Flooded Poplar Bluff Hit with More Rain

The southern Missouri town of Poplar Bluff endured another night of torrential rain, this time dropping another two inches of water onto already saturated ground.

 The Black River levee that protects the town's low-lying neighborhoods survived Tuesday night. The earthen wall was breached yesterday south of town, which flooded farmland, but released pressure within city limits.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 1:51 p.m. April 28:

Via the Associated Press:

The Black River is receding at Poplar Bluff, Mo., and some 1,000 evacuees are now allowed to go home.

Officials in the southeast Missouri community of 17,000 residents on Thursday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for a large section of town, where river water has been pouring over the top of the levee.

Residents in the impacted area can return home whenever they choose.

Many will find a mess left behind by the murky water. Officials don't yet know how many homes were damaged in Poplar Bluff and in a rural area of Butler County also protected by the levee.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that after a crest of 21.4 feet on Tuesday, the Black River at Poplar Bluff was down to 19.1 feet.

Updated 11:14 a.m. April 27:

Via the Associated Press:

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will wait until this weekend to decide whether to intentionally break a southeastern Missouri levee along the Mississippi River.

The Corps has said it may have to blow holes in the Birds Point levee to ease rising waters near the Illinois town of Cairo which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri has sued (see 12:58 update) to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

But Corps spokesman Bob Anderson tells The Associated Press that even if a judge gives the go-ahead, the agency will wait until it gets a better forecast of the river crests to see if the breach is necessary. That decision isn't likely to come until at least this weekend.

Updated 5:06 p.m. April 26:

Via the Associated Press:

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is defending the idea of intentionally breaching a Missouri levee to reduce flooding in Cairo.

Missouri officials object to the plan, saying it would endanger 130,000 acres of prime farmland.

But Simon told The Associated Press on Tuesday that farmers will be compensated for their losses and will be able to use the land next year. On the other hand, flooding could devastate the poor town of Cairo.

She noted an Illinois levee was intentionally breached during 1993 flooding.

Simon also says the Army Corps of Engineers would not break the Birds Point levee until water had already topped the levee.

The Corps of Engineers says it will put off a decision until at least Wednesday.

Updated 4:20 p.m. April 26:

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says she has concerns about the intentional breaching of the levee at Birds Point (via a press release):

“While emergency responders and volunteers work to save lives and protect property as best they can, the Army Corps of Engineers are working to find a solution to alleviate the stress from our levees.  I have grave concerns about the plan to intentionally breach Bird’s Point Levee that is being considered. In the effort to prevent more damage, we may do additional significant harm to the agricultural economy of the region that will last well after the flood waters recede.”

The release says McCaskill has already communicated her concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers' leadership.

(via Flickr/The National Guard/M. Queiser/Missouri National Guard)

The floods affecting southern and southeastern Missouri and towns along the Mississippi River have resulted in hundreds of closed roads in the state, along with neighboring areas in Illinois.

Updated 1:32 p.m. April 26:

The City of Fenton has announced that The River Road in Fenton, Mo. at the intersection of Yarnell Road and Larkin-Williams Road is now closed.

In Missouri:

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Opening Statements Begin Today in Christopher Coleman Trial

Area residents started to line-up early this morning outside the Monroe County courthouse to watch the start of the case. The crime took place nearly 2 years ago. Prosecutors allege that Coleman, who once handled security for the Joyce Meyer Ministries, killed his wife Sheri and their sons Garrett and Gavin to be with a mistress. That woman, Tara Lintz, has been ordered to testify and a deposition from Joyce Meyer will also be part of the prosecutor's case.

Major flooding possible in region over next few days

Apr 22, 2011
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Forecasters say major flooding is a possibility as the region braces for heavy rainfall over the next five days.

Mark Fuchs is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

He says melting rain and ice from northern states combined with localized rainfall is creating flood conditions from near the Iowa state line in Canton, Mo. all the way south of St. Louis.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

Two Inmates Escape from St. Louis Justice Center

St. Louis police continue to search for two jail inmates that escaped from the St. Louis Justice Center located at 200 S. Tucker Blvd this morning. Police say 34-year-old Vernon Collins and 33-year-old David White escaped shortly before 7 a.m. and are wearing white t-shirts and shorts and white tennis shoes.

View University City Flood Damage in a larger map

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that  a class-action lawsuit stemming from 2008 flash floods that killed two people and severely damaged more than 100 houses in University City can go forward.

The lawsuit alleges that the Metropolitan Sewer District's failure to maintain the River Des Peres  made it impossible for the system to handle what amounted to predictable heavy rain. The floods were the result of the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

The St. Louis office of the National Weather Service has released its Spring Flood Outlook. Hydrologist Mark Fuchs says the potential for spring flooding is much higher than usual, especially along the Mississippi River, but Fuchs says the data doesn't predict significant flooding in the St. Louis area.

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